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Wilderness designations fall short of need to protect Southern Nevada land

The Bureau of Land Management lands in Southern Nevada are important to me. We need to provide for current generations by allowing places to be available for scenic and recreational uses and for future option values as well as scenic and recreational values for our children’s children’s children.

We are closing the doors on too many locations, and they cannot be returned to their current state when destroyed. They have unique value and purpose in the context of Nevada now and for future generations. I moved to the West to enjoy the outdoors!

As a previous mayor of Boulder City, I asked for protection of the world’s greatest bighorn sheep habitat, the River Mountains, north of Boulder City. It is now considered an area of critical environmental concern and has the greatest number of bighorn sheep in Nevada. It remains a resource for repopulating other areas of our state with bighorn sheep. That is one strong reason not to ignore any area we can protect.

Today, just 7 percent of the area — 230,000 acres — has been permanently safeguarded as wilderness. In a draft land use plan now available for public review and comment, the BLM fell short in properly assessing additional wild areas that are still in need of protection.

Politics should be the last consideration in our state in protecting these lands, not the first. Wilderness needs more defenders. Ignore the ridiculous rancor from the politicians to avail these lands to the state because the state will never need the wilderness areas under consideration. There are plenty of other areas available for development.

The BLM identified only another 7 percent of those 3 million acres as having wilderness qualities, and it has proposed to set aside an even smaller fraction — just 1 percent. The amount of land requested to be protected is so trivial compared with the total amount of public land in Nevada.

Please extend your protection to all of the requested lands. Thanks for your consideration in this matter.

I strongly feel that the following areas evaluated by the BLM have high wilderness values and support including these areas as additional lands that meet the BLM lands with wilderness characteristics criteria: Bitter Ridge, Virgin Mountain Addition, Eldorado Addition, Buffington Pockets, Last Chance Range and Specter Range.

I feel that the following areas, which were overlooked by the BLM lands with wilderness characteristic inventory, also meet the criteria for wilderness and should be inventoried, evaluated and included with the lands with wilderness characteristics for the district: St. Thomas Gap and Summit Springs.

I strongly encourage the district to adopt Alternative 2 for this element with the above listed lands included and protect, preserve and maintain their wilderness characteristics.

I support the strongest management actions to prevent off-highway vehicle usage from damaging the wilderness resources of these areas and compromising the nonimpairment standards set by the BLM.

I support the Alternative 2 for off-highway vehicle designation with the inclusion of all district wilderness study areas and the above listed additional lands with wilderness characteristics into the “closed to all motorized or mechanized vehicles” category.

Eric Lundgaard is a Boulder City resident and served on the City Council for 12 years and was mayor from 1991-93 and 1995-97.

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